Finding Orphaned Birds

wbu_logo Ask Wild Birds Unlimited

One of the most frequently asked questions for people new to the birding community is, “What do I do if I find a baby bird?”

Diana Churchill, long-time employee of Wild Birds Unlimited and member of Ogeechee Audubon, gives us an excelent response.

“Yes, this question comes up every spring. In a perfect world, all eggs would hatch, all baby birds would remain in the nest to be tended by parents, no roaming cats, snakes or hawks would ever kill a parent bird, and no humans would cut down trees during nesting season. So, life isn’t perfect and we have to deal with what we get.

If you find a baby bird, first determine if it is nestling or a fledgling. Nestlings are not fully feathered and need to be kept warm and tended by a parent. If you find a nestling and you are unable to return the bird to the nest (it is a myth that the parent will abandon the bird if you touch it) line a bowl or box with soft cloth or paper towels. If the bird is tiny with few feathers, keep it warm under a lamp or with heating pad beneath the cloth. Contact a licensed rehabilitator as raising orphaned birds should be done by someone with specialized knowledge and a permit to have wild birds in captivity.

If the bird is a fledgling – fully feathered and able to hop about and even fly – your best course of action is to leave it alone and observe. Generally, the parents will be nearby feeding and tending their teen-ager. If possible, keep cats indoors until the young one gets a feel for flying. If you are worried about predators, you can try putting the bird in a basket and hanging it from a branch. However fledglings are active and do not generally stay put.”

-Diana Churchill, Wild Birds Unlimited

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